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Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Saraland AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Saraland AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Saraland AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Saraland AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Saraland AL region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Saraland AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Saraland AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.